Tonight Chelsea Piers will play host to hundreds of people to mark the fourth Change-Maker's Ball in New York City. The annual event raises money for charity organization Self Help Africa (SHA), a foundation that prides itself on empowering people on the continent to provide for themselves, their families and communities. In Africa, almost 75 percent of rural African residents can be reliant on small-scale agriculture, depending on the location. Through teaching individuals how to farm effectively, providing much needed tools and other resources for success, Self Help Africa enables people to be self-sufficient and in turn the organization expects the individuals that benefit to pay it forward. In 2010, Self Help Africa's Business Development Manager, Martha Hourican told Fox Business that SHA tries to get away from the dependency model of assistance and instead offer economic opportunity to the people who need it. In a nut shell, Hourican says, "...we give nothing away for free, if we give a bag of seed to a farmer, we expect two bags back when it comes to harvest time, so we can give it to two more farmers and if we train a farmer we expect him or her to train 10 other farmers."
To support the cause, a fun evening will take place tonight to both raise money and present Ethiopian-born Chef Marcus Samuelsson with the organization's Spirit of Africa award, a distinction that "honors Africa's champions." Chef Samuelsson was the winner of the 2010 season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters and recently published a memoir entitled "Yes, Chef," that was later heralded by the New York Times as "one of the great culinary stories of all time."
This evening's black-tie event will feature dinner, live entertainment, a silent auction and a custom cocktail creation. Every year the Change-Maker's ball has had a special concoction on offer and at $100 a pop; proceeds will naturally go to support the cause. This year Chef Nils Noren, Vice President, Restaurant Operations for the Marcus Samuelsson Group went to work putting together the recipe and took the time to give us a little bit of insight into the inspiration behind it. "This year I developed The Harlem Apple cocktail as the Change-Maker’s Cocktail," Noren says, "I wanted to celebrate the organization and while embracing the time of year, so I was inspired by my favorite fall ingredient, apple. The apple juice combined with the spice of the ginger and coriander really gives the cocktail a light smokiness with citrus notes helping to the stage for a wonderful evening." (Don't worry we have the recipe down below.)
In actuality, according to Chef Noren this is not the first involvement that the Samuelsson Group has had with Self Help Africa, citing the aligned motivation "to ultimately lift people in Africa out of poverty permanently." In fact he says, "I have had the honor of working with Self Help Africa for the last few years and their hard work has provided invaluable help and long-term support to many people in rural Africa...And, this year, Marcus [Samuelsson] will receive the inaugural Spirit of Africa award at the gala – which further involves the Marcus Samuelsson Group. The award honors Africa's champions, those who embody the continent's unique reservoir of talent, drive and entrepreneurship."
We look forward to hearing what great things are in store for both SHA and the Marcus Samuelsson Group. If you would like to find out more about Self Help Africa and how you can help, you can visit their site at selfhelpafrica.org. Don't forget to check out Chef Nils' delicious $100 cocktail, The Harlem Apple: